The greatest gift aging presents is the wisdom allowing us to become our most authentic selves.


I believe that the greatest gift aging presents is the wisdom allowing us to become our most authentic selves. Over the span of my 30-year career, I’ve met many people, myself included, who have hidden under layers of personas. These “imposters” are there to mask the fears and the lack of nurturing we might have endured as children. We’re not all victims of abusive parenting, but the vast majority of us have altered our personalities because someone, somewhere, made us feel ashamed to be who we really are.
Were you accused of being too sensitive or too outgoing? Perhaps you laughed a great deal, moved around too much, or were a social butterfly? Or maybe you had a fantastic imagination and were incredibly creative. Sadly, it often takes just one negative comment and you decide to put away that piece of yourself that gave you joy; for some reason, it seems very important to please the inner critic… instead of staying true to yourself.
When we internalize these critical voices, we often forget about our glorious origins, and then the voices become our own. But if we choose to ignore the negative statements, if we realize that they’re not relevant to us and don’t define who we are, we can finally become the wise and wonderful sages we’re meant to be.
Once our comfort levels increase, we have more energy to enter a phase of aging that psychoanalyst Erik Erikson called generativity, which refers to the point in our lives when we have the opportunity to become consultants, guides, mentors, or coaches to young adults in the larger society. It also means a time for community building. I’ve found this to be one of my greatest blessings, but it wasn’t something I was capable of bringing into my life to the degree I have until I understood my own history and how it influenced my behavior. Only then was I truly able to give of myself to family, friends, and others in the way I do now.
At this moment, I’m fortunate to have the energy I need in order to live the life I’ve always wanted. However, I also have moments when I question the reasons for my very existence. Does it matter if I share my wisdom with audiences throughout the world? Should I have stayed home and been the good wife and mother? Will I be riddled with guilt because I didn’t follow the path my mother thought would have been best for me? Do I have enough money to support myself through my last days, or will I have to tap dance between doorways with a tin cup in my hand, hoping I’ll get a few dimes?
I thank God everyday that I am still capable of laughing at myself. And I hope that I will be able to continue to foster that ability in others. Laughter has helped me to survive my life, it really is the best medicine.

 

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Some things are okay just the way they are!


My aunt Josie who had an incredible sense of the ridiculous, was remarking on our desire to control things. She commented on the fact that nobody seems to be able to do anything any more without someone telling them how to do it. She mentioned that since everyone is getting so entrenched in what experts think, that pretty soon they won’t be able to leave the house without taking someone’s advice. She figured she’d make millions by just writing a book that had one word written on each page; “leave”, “come back”, “eat”, ‘get dressed”! Of course, she also managed to point out that people hired me to learn how to laugh at their stress—something her generation did automatically, along with consuming their spaghetti and wine.
It appears that there is absolutely nothing a human being does that doesn’t have a self-help book attached to it. If you’re talking to someone, it’s no longer a conversation. if it’s a man, we can’t talk to him the same way we talk to a woman because he hears things differently right? If you don’t say it the right way, he might wash the car, instead of giving the baby a bottle. If you’re having a fight, you have to stay away from words that trigger old wounds.
My grandparents didn’t give a hoot about old wounds.They just yelled back and forth at each other. “Fatti.i fatti,tuoi!” my grandfather would shout.( “Mind your own business!”). “Sei pazzo!” Francesca would respond (“ You’re crazy”). Finally one of them would say,    “ Ho fame!” ( “I’m hungry”). The whole thing would end as abruptly as it started, and they’d become absorbed in getting the water to boil for their daily plate of spaghetti. They were married for over fifty years without ever attending a couples workshop.
Nowadays, we want to control every aspect of our lives. You can take a seminar or get an app that will teach you how to manage your anger, how many steps you’ve taken, or if you had the right sleep patterns during the night, It amazes me how many books there on about how to walk properly. I wonder what has happened to all the people who walked incorrectly. Are thousands of them showing up in emergency rooms traumatized by injuries from walking improperly?
There are also books on breathing, communicating, weight loss, dog and cat training, and a lot of information on sex. It’s not that I don’t see the value we have accumulated in order to help humanity evolve. Some things are okay just the way they are. Others are enhanced by our intervention. Can you imagine an entire race of individuals with nothing wrong with them? Forget it; it wouldn’t last five minutes. Somebody would counter, by writing a book, “Returning to Dysfunction: The New Paradigm for the Modern Thinker”.

 

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